Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weekly Special - Fracture for PS3

This weeks weekly special is Fracture for PS3 for a mere pittance of just $9.90! A bargain indeed, and we recommend getting in quick to avoid disappointment. At this low price, it's just not going to last very long. So buy a copy for yourself, your friend, your mother, your pet even!

Fracture is a third person shooter set in the future (2161 to be precise). But there's something new in this game, which comes in the form of terrain deformation. Point your weapon and shoot to deform the terrain to your will. Make it bigger to use as cover or make a hole to go underground, it's up to you.

You'll play as Jet Brody (Does everyone have lame names in the future?), fighting for the Atlantic Alliance against the Pacifican army for some reason or another. Having played the game, the generic story matters not, it's just an excuse to shoot the crap out of people and deform terrain, which is actually quite fun. It's not the best game in the world, but it's got decent graphics, an interesting gimmick and okay weapons. For $9.90, you just can't go wrong. Buy it...NOW.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekly Special - One Day Left

Last chance to pick up Shellshock 2: Blood Trails for the Xbox 360 at half the regular marked price ($19.90). The weekly special expires in less than 24 hours. Shellshock 2 is a first person shooter survival horror game set in Vietnam. Sounds a bit like Resident Evil in Vietnam I suppose, minus the zombies.

While I haven't played the game, I'm sure it's a decent first person shooter and for the bargain price, who's complaining? Make sure to pick up some more bargains from the Summer sale before it ends on the 31st too. Plenty of great stuff available to bundle with your order.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bargain Pick - Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer Limited Edition

If you're up for some classic shooter action, but don't have a PS3 or prefer a boxed copy of your games instead of a download, then you'll be happy to know that Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer Limited Edition for PC is available for the very attractive price of just US$ 9.90.

That's $40 off the regular price! Hurry, this is a limited offer and only while stocks last! At this price, you'll want to buy two or three. It'll make a great present for your friends or loved ones. Don't miss out!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

GP2X Wiz Almost Here

The Korean handheld is scheduled to be released in April. Despite the silly name, the Wiz packs a punch in the power department. A 533Mhz 3D flash engine powers the Linux based handheld and should provide homebrew developers with plenty to work with. You can develop your own software for the Wiz and there's an active community supporting the various incarnations of the handheld at GP32x forums.

It also comes with games already preloaded on the system and has various improvements over the first GP2X model, such as an OLED touch screen, 1gb of flash memory storage and Lithium rechargeable battery (no more AA batteries!). While the picture shows two d-pads, the community suggested the company change the right d-pad back to regular buttons and that's how it will contain when it's released.

Don't expect it to compete with the PSP or DS, but as a hobby machine for watching videos and playing retro games with the inevitable emulators and free software, there's plenty of fun to be had! 

More information once it's released.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Akira Available on Blu-Ray

One of the coolest animated movies ever is now available on Blu-ray. Known for its fantastic hand drawn animation and interesting plot, Akira is a must see movie for anyone even mildly interested in animated movies.

The new Blu-Ray version features newly remastered footage at glorious 1080p HD resolution, trailers, 32 page booklet, storyboards and more. Don't miss out on this 80's classic, now in HD.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Games to Own - #1

Here's part one of a series of posts that will recommend some quality titles for your gaming collection may be under your radar. First pick goes to Bully: Scholarship Edition for Xbox 360. Another great game by Rockstar, the makers of the Grand Theft Auto games, Bully places you in the shoes of Jimmy Hopkins as he aims to survive at Bullworth, the school his mother has ditched him at while she goes of on her own.

Originally released on PS2, the game has received a nice graphics upgrade and some extra missions. Bully features a clever, funny and interesting storyline as well as some unique and fun mission types fans have come to know and love from Rockstar. There's plenty to do and even if you just speed through the missions, you'll still get a good 15 hours or so out of the game.

There are a few negatives of course. For one thing, while the graphics have been nicely improved, the loading times have not. If you're used to playing these open world games with no loading times, you'll be sorely disappointed. Every time you enter and exit a building, you'll be greeted with a loading screen. It's not too bad and certainly not game breaking, but it does get a bit annoying the further you delve into the game.

Also, while you earn respect with the various gangs at Bullworth, you can't choose which side to ally with. You're stuck doing the predetermined story missions which influence your respect. There are some other small niggling issues, but they're really not worth mentioning.

Bully is a fun and interesting open world game and less complicated than Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto titles. This one comes recommended with a score of 8.5 out of 10. It's also available on Wii.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What I'd like to see in the PSP 4000 model

The PSP 3000 model introduced some new improvements to the existing Slim & Lite (PSP 2000) model, but it took a major step back in the LCD screen department. Reports of ghosting, interlacing and unnatural color reproduction have made the new PSP an unworthy upgrade of the previous Slim & Lite. The screen is very important, since we do spent many hours staring at it. So, here's a wish list for the inevitable future PSP 4000.

Include OLED (Organic LED) screen technology. It puts LCD and Plasma to shame with superior color reproduction, amazing contrast ratios, no dead pixels, no response rate issues and no backlight needed. The OLED screen creates its own light and is reported to be visible even in sunlight. It also uses a lot less power which is a must for handhelds. It's time the PSP makes use of this excellent new technology.

Bluetooth would also be useful for various reasons such as sharing content with a cell phone or connecting to the internet if not within wireless reach.

And of course trophies. Why are there no trophies in PSP games now that the PSP is able to access the PlayStation Network? This should have been included in an update a long time ago.

The final missing piece to the puzzle is AAA games. There's just not enough AAA titles on the PSP, with lackluster support from Sony having put the PSP in its current predicament. Gran Turismo Mobile that was shown before the PSP even launched and still hasn't been released. It's no surprise PSP owners are dissapointed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lucky Spring Sale at Play-Asia

If you haven't noticed already, Play-Asia has a sale on at the moment. Each order has a chance to win some great prizes. Don't believe me? See for yourself. Plenty of bargains for every console, so get in quick and don't miss out on grabbing a bargain and your chance to win!

Sale ends at the end of march. The more eligible items you buy, the more chances to win. How's that for a double dose of 'for the win'?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bokujou Monogatari / Harvest Moon - Soil a large corporation's plans through a hoe and a water can

A huge company is threatening to take over your plot of farmland and your way of life, so as a farm boy and a law abiding citizen, what are you to do? Make your land prosper and get it back through constructive ways.

Marriage and farming have always been centerpiece in the Harvest Moon series, however, the addition of the task to soil a big corporation's project has come at a very suitable time.

Anger and blood lust have reached its peak in the last few days and taking up fire arms is not a very sane way to relieve it. The whole finance/economic system is in need of a restructuring, and farming is one of the best places to start.

If bringing a large corporation down by hoes, water cans, cows and chickens could not sate your blood lust, come take up a sword and slay some monsters in Rune Factory Frontier on your Nintendo Wii system.

Given the violent crimes that are happening within the last 365 days (some involves shootings, other include knifes and other sharp instruments) government officials as well as moral groups that may know nothing about the array of genres available are all too ready to propose the banning of games and police media in the name of protecting the young.

Not only are the connection between violent games and crime difficult to prove, and in addition to that, not all games are violent, as I'm sure a lot of people may have noticed already. Harvest Moon is one of the many games that encourages creation and a series that parents will not be afraid to let their children play.

Although the act of farming is highly idealized in the series, it could be a way to inspire people to get closer to nature and have some fun in a more peaceful way.

And admittedly, engaging in violent acts in games can be very liberating and stress relieving at times. Most people have the ability to contain their frustrations in the virtual world and those who released it in the real world may not be gamers at all, so why not try to understand the community before proposing bans?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cryptic Allusion CryptoCast Gives Away Söldner-X

The Cryptic Allusion CryptoCast is podcast centered around videogames. Their main focus is on the development and playing of indie games, but they also cover plenty of mainstream games. It varies from episode to episode, but one thing is very consistent: their love of videogames and the indie game development scene always shows through.

In their latest podcast (CryptoCast Episode 28), hosts Roddy, Pam, and Alex discuss the PS3 version of Söldner-X and announce a contest where listeners can win a free copy of Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer. Head over to the show notes for Episode 28 to see what all they are covering this time. Mentioned in the show notes are the rules for their contest to win a copy of Söldner-X.

The show notes also indicate that Söldner-X will be discussed in further detail in the next CryptoCut Episode 7. The CryptoCut is a short version of the CryptoCast that usually covers only one specific game or topic. This is also where the winner of the Söldner-X giveaway will be announced.

If you are interested in podcasting, videogames, indie game development, or just winning free stuff, then I suggest that you give the Cryptic Allusion CryptoCast a listen. You can get it on iTunes or directly from the Cryptic Allusion website or RSS feed. It is really a great podcast. I've been listening to it for a while now, and I think it gets better with each episode! I would really love for them to get a wider fanbase!

Play-Asia receives praise from popular Australian Game Magazine

Australian Hyper magazine has given high praise to Play-Asia for its competitive pricing and reliability in the February 2009 Issue (184). Hyper recommends Play-Asia as the safest and best priced option for Australian gamers and their import needs. Click the image to read the scan of the section from the magazine. Hyper magazine is one of the biggest and most popular gaming magazines in Australia and you can find the shopping guide on pages 32-37.

Along with the Best Independent Online Retailer from Cheap Ass Gamer, Play-Asia is off to a fantastic start in 2009. We strive to provide the best possible service and is very happy to receive this recognition. Thank you to Hyper for the kind words!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Play-Asia.com is the Best Independent Online Game Retailer

The 6th Annual Cheapy Awards have been announced by Cheap Ass Gamer, and, once again, the title of Best Independent Online Retailer has been bestowed upon our beloved Play-Asia.com.

Customers of Play-Asia understand what makes a good online shopping experience. As CheapyD puts it, "Consistent weekly deals, seasonal sales/contests, great service, and coupons with every order secured the Best Independent Online Game Retailer award for the Hong Kong based specialty retailer." Though it is really the customers that are to be thanked here. Without them, there would be no Play-Asia. Thanks to everyone that shops Play-Asia.com whether you voted or not!

Being the conqueror of this prestigious category for three years in a row is something that Play-Asia is very proud of. Responding to the news, a Play-Asia.com spokesperson said, "Thank you ladies and gentlemen! Winning the Cheapy Awards Best Independent Online Game Retailer award again means a lot to us. It's these kind of things that make our work here more meaningful. We are proud and happy, and will work hard to do even better in the future! Thanks again to all who participated and thanks to a more than decent CheapyD for running these awards year after year. Happy gaming and world peace!"

Original story from CheapAssGamer.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion

Code Geass is one of Bandai's most popular animes. By combinding mechas, school romantic comedy, war tactics, and an over-abundance of pretty looking characters.

With successful anime series such as Gundam Seed and 00, Bandai knows what to do when dealing with (commercially) successful mecha anime. From mechas to figures and games, Bandai's anime series spawn numerous merchandises.

But with Code Geass and Gundam, they delivered so much more. Not quite as politically heavy as Gundam Seed, Code Geass contains quite a few dramatically funny moments even during the most tense situations.

As an abandoned prince of the Britanian Empire (Great British Empire?), Lelouche has sworn protect his younger sister Nunnally and bring his father land down. Meeting, and "rescuing" a strange girl C.C from confinement, he was given the power of Geass.

Geass manifests itself in many forms, and Lelouch's is the absolute power over others. From Testing around to mastering his new found powers, Lelouche got himself into all sorts of struggles.

And things complicated even more when his best friend Suzaku decides to side with Britania.

I have yet to see anyone putting on their contact lenses with such an extravagant gesture.

In fact, everything about Code Geass screams elegance and extravagance. From the Britanian palaces to the Ashford Academy and its protagonist Lelouche tops it all with one sweeping motion.

Drawn by Clamp, its no wonder that the characters are absolutely beautiful and perhaps, its precisely because it's drawn by Clamp and with character such as Kira and Ashram before it, a somewhat observable scent of homo-eroticness floats throughout the series (it includes both males and females, so which ever direction you sniff, you'd smell something).

The art books above contains quite a few of these nice moments (just remove the jacket and look at the full cover of Mutuality). If you pride yourself as someone not into these, the books come with a lot of wonderful, or cute pictures as well, so its a good buy.

Music is nice, with orchestral themes, haunting vocals that suits certain parts of the plot and exciting digital music, so the OSTs are must have as well. Although it goes beautifully with the anime, they could stand alone on their own.

The plot is exciting with a generous amount of fights, sweet moments and gags mixed in, so give it a go when you are looking for something to watch, you'd get hooked.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Peggle DS (Flavor's Random Pick)

PopCap Games' Peggle has finally made its way to a proper hand-held gaming platform. Q Entertainment is to thank for developing the Nintendo DS version of Peggle, and if their name doesn't ring a bell for you, think of Meteos, Lumines, and Rez HD. So here we have one of the most addictive games around brought to the DS by the developer of some of the best hand-held puzzle games around.

To me, this is the type of game that really should be on the DS and/or PSP. PopCap Games has made a good living out of bringing casual games like this to a wide audience on the PC, but, to me, this is the sort of thing that just feels at home on the go. I think that's the first time I've purposely worked an oxymoron into one of my posts.

I've played Peggle on the PC, and it is a very well made, fun, and addictive title. I was a bit skeptical, though, how well it would translate to the small, mouseless, dual-screened handheld of mine, so I took it for a bit of a test drive this past weekend. I have to say that I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, I don't think I'll be playing Peggle on the PC, anymore. If you've read any of my posts, you can probably tell that I've got a thing for the DS, PSP, or any other handheld games. If a game is just as fun on both platforms, I'd rather put it in my pocket (or backpack as it may be).

To me, Peggle DS has all the fun of the original. There really is only one screen of gameplay, because the other is mostly just used for status information like how many balls you have left. Of course, that means that you can't get the same level of graphics as you would on the PC version. The lack of a mouse is a minor drawback. On the PC it's very natural to use the mouse. On the DS, you can use the stylus to control the game (and even zoom in to make tight shots). Personally, I didn't feel like I needed the stylus control. I used it for a while, and then I got good at using the d-pad and shoulder buttons.

If you don't know what Peggle is, then, first of all, I'm surprised you read this far into my article. Second, you need to check this game out. As you might have guessed, I'd recommend the Nintendo DS version. If you're not yet convinced, check out a review at IGN. If demos are you thing, you can find a free trial of the PC version at PopCap Games' website.

If you already know what Peggle is, then you should already know if you like it. If you do, then I think you'll like the DS version. If you don't, I don't expect that you would find anything new to excite you about the DS version. It's as easy as that. Go pick it up. You know you didn't need all those extra hours of your life, anyway.

RPGs that are cute - Mana Khemia, Annie no Atilier

The idea of magic schools has existed long before Harry Potter comes into being, but the popular franchise seems to have brought about the rise in a number of these academic institutions, and Mana Khemia is one of them. Although strictly speaking, alchemists are neither witches nor wizards, the idea of turning soil in to gold is nothing less appealing (especially in an age where gold turns into soil).

Let's all go back to school and find our bearings again. There is something very attractive about schools, it signifies innocence, friendship and adventure and Mana-Khemia is exactly this, an ideal school life.
After graduating, with your life intact, think about your future, depending on what ending you get in Mana Khemia, you can either end up with a partner, or a rival for life.

Either way,even for the lazier of you, you still need to find something to do after graduating. Put your skills in alchemy into use, and your grandfather is suggesting that you help up with setting up a resort area.

Just work hard this once, As soon as you ace the game, you can marry the prince and laze around for the rest of your life.

Life is hard enough nowawadays, so play something fun and relaxing, with a bit less tension. Things that can be broken apart are already shattered. Start restructuring things through alchemy, at least in the game world.

Mana Khemia is pretty fun. Everything seems to be under a layer of pastel colored gauze, simply speaking, the whole game is innocent and cute. The character design adopted a shojo manga style (i.e. large eyes, small mouth, delicate limbs). It's truely a game suitable for both genders and players of every age.

The game proceeds at a relaxed pace with the first few chapters focusing more on mundane and comedic situations and character growth and the last few chapters on the truth about the main character's birth. While significantly heavier than the first parts, it's hardly ink black.

Wonderful for first time gamers as the fights ease you gently through the system, by the time you finish the game, you would be adequately equipped to deal with battles in other turn based RPG. There are usually no punishment for losing, you won't have your items plundered or money taken away, you will wake up in the infirmary, fully restored, ready for the challenge again.

Since we are talking about alchemists, I decided to tag the newest installment in the atilier games into the post. Still using shojo styled artwork and a storyline that makes you smile, Annie's Atilier is a good place to spend your time, and a stimulus for you to learn Japanese.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pokemon Platinum Cheap

Here's a game franchise that I'm sure you've never heard of. Oh, whoops. I think I bumped the SARCASTIC LOCK button on my keyboard.

"Wahoo! The Pocket Monsters are back!"

Just about everyone should be uttering that phrase right about now. The question is whether you have your sarcasm turned on or off. Because Pokémon is so well known, it seems that people either love it or hate it.

Truth be told, I was always a Pokémon lover. I watched the cartoon. I bought a GameBoy Color so I could play Pokémon Blue. I was ranked near the top of Pokémon Trading Card players in my area for a while. I posed with hot women in front of a giant Pikachu trading card. The list goes on.

Over the years, I've fallen away from playing the Pokémon games. I have played a little bit of Pokémon on each of the handheld systems: GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, and Nintendo DS. I had fun with them, but I wasn't as interested in the whole experience as I had once been.

Recently, though, I pulled out an old GameBoy Pocket with Pokémon Yellow. My daughter is learning to read, and I thought that if she got into playing a game like this, she would want to learn to read all the words so she could play on her own.

It's been a good experience thus far. In fact, the reading has come very quickly. It's now parts of the actual gameplay that are holding her back a bit. She gets lost in the caves and gets stranded in areas where she can't easily get back to a Pokémon Center to heal her team. That's when she asks for help. She rarely asks what a word means, anymore. I even started teaching her how to play the Pokémon Trading Card game with some of my old cards. It's actually quite good for teaching some simple math skills and game rules.

The GameBoy Pocket isn't exactly a modern marvel, anymore. What happens when she's done with that game? Well, I'm thinking that Pokémon Platinum happens! If you're looking for an English version of the game to import, Play-Asia has a great price on preorders of Pokémon Platinum right now. From what I know, it's due out on March 22nd, which is just over a week away. If you're a PokéManiac like me, you'll want to check it out whether it's for you or your kids.

Maybe you'll hear more from me about using Pokémon as a learning tool (or should I say Pokémon as a teaching tool) for my kids. It's been really enjoyable reliving some of my old fun games and memories while teaching new skills to my daughter.

Emergency Food Supply - Chopper and his favourite snacks

Although he has been nicknamed by Sanji, the crew's chef as Emergency Food Supply, the little elk obviously felt no qualms with fattening himself, he knew that the rounder elks are, the cuter, and more popular they become.

Everybody needs to pamper themselves once in a while, including your health minded doctor. Chopper is here to show you the happiness of snacking on your favourite food.

As a teenager, Chopper is not immune to sweets, with a stick of candy floss in each of his hands, he is deciding which one he should have first. Either way, he need to devour it soon or the crew, each with a mini black hole in their stomachs, will find out about his goodies.

After having so much sugar and pink floss, its time for a drink. Pumpkin juice contains a high amount of fibers and vitamins, perfect even for those of you on a diet. Slurping up thick creamy juice, Chopper is showing you how elastic his stomach can be, and that he is indeed part of the straw hats crew, as he too, has a bottomless pit of a stomach.

When Chopper is busy eating and drinking, someone seems to have stolen into his room and took out half of his prized, or a dangerous possession.

One look at the desperately tearful face of the doctor says it all. What sort of mushroom is this? What caused so much panic? Is it deadly poisonous or is it highly delicious and nutritious that Chopper just could not bear the idea of having someone bit half of it off?

Either way, happy, satisfied or panicky, Chopper is showing his cutest sides in this set of figures, take him home and let him remind you to eat, with him in front of you, all food become more delicious.

Small and intricately made, they are perfect for cars or desks, they give your room a tint of personality that is just right, besides, who can resist Chopper, the mascot of the straw hat pirates?

Forget about diets and everything else, everybody deserves a break, take yours with Chopper.

Play Asia Weekly Special: Tomb Raider Underworld

This week's upcoming Play-Asia Weekly Special is a new adventure by the grand dame of aventuria: Lara Croft!

"A new advancement in exploration-based gameplay. As fearless adventurer Lara Croft explore exotic locations around the world, each designed with an incredible attention to detail resulting in breathtaking high-definition visual fidelity that creates truly believable world and delivers a new level of challenge and choice."

The game achieved a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Play-Asia.com's users ratings, this should be proof that the game is all but boring. Tomb Raider Underworld has been voted the best of the late adventures of Lara Croft and we can attest to that. For sale from this Tuesday afternoon for an unbelievable US$19.90. You better hurry up before it does the out of stock thing again!

Friday, March 6, 2009

From children to adults - let Robo Q inspire you

Ready! Get Set! Go!

The four Robo Q's are ready to walk into your lives and get to know you. These toys think, feel and move.

Standing at approximately 3.4 cm tall (shorter than your average pinky!), these miniature robots are the smallest mass produced AI machinery that are ready to serve you.

They may not be able to make dinner or clean house, but they are certainly more than capable in keeping you amused.

Use the remote control to direct their actions, crank up the speed lever and see them run, spin them around and marvel at their smooth moves. You don't even have to worry about them crashing into things, with an infra red sensor built into their heads, they can detect obstacles before them and swerve out of harms way.

Now the aspiring sports club manager can have their field day, with these robots, you can always assemble your team and pit them against others in soccer.

Its fun to see tiny robots wobbling like penguins along a table, swerving around objects and following balls. This is definitely a toy suitable for both boys and girls over the age where they would put things randomly into their mouths. Smaller than a pinky and cheerfully colored, the robots does look a bit like a prettily wrapped piece of candy.

Put the remote control into your hand, switch it on auto if you want the robot to run mazes if you just want to see them move around, or switch to manual if you want to have a contest with someone else.

When the ball is quite a bit larger than the robots themselves, the robots didn't seem to be playing soccer much, they looked more like penguins trying to build a snowman.

Play with your children with these robots and inspire them, but most of all, just have a really fun time with them.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wiz Skins / Faceplates

I don't really have a lot to say in this post. I mostly wanted to post some pictures, that I obtained, showing skins that will (most likely) be available for the upcoming GP2X Wiz handheld console. If you like the look of the Wiz on the left, then you may be interested in getting a new skin for your Wiz (when it comes out of course). From what I can tell these faceplates will be in the form of a sticker that you can apply to the front and back of your GP2X Wiz console. See the "Full Article" below for more pictures, and click on any of the pictures for larger versions.

It's about children - Arashi's Believe / Kumori nochi Kaisei

If Arashi seemed active in 2008, they'd only get more so this year since they've reached their 10th year anniversary in 2009. The first single they released this year carries two theme songs, one for Sakurai Sho's Yattaman and the other for Ohno Satoshi's Uta no Onii-san.

Yattaman is a movie for the family and long time anime/manga fans, acted by a star studded cast and based on a hugely popular manga series of the same name, it's a movie you won't want to miss.
Uta no Onii-san is a comedy drama series about a jobless young man becoming the "dictator" of a children's TV program. From a jobless bloke to a star and a dictator to a successful host, this is a story about dreams and a lot of gag.

Because of the two shows' association with children, the songs are both fast paced with a fizzy pop feel and memorable melodies that you can hum to.

While the songs are wonderful as standalone works they are even more interesting when you associate them with their respective drama or film. It's hard to classify what kind of artist Arashi, or the Johnny boys, at large, are, since they are required to dance, sing, model, act and do acrobats.

These boys are chosen at a young age during an audition and is put into a school designed especially to train them to enter the world of entertainment in the Johnny's way. There are times when I could not help but think that they are the male version of Takarazuka (especially after seeing clips of the boys doing stage plays).

Each member of Arashi specialize in something, the leader Ohno Satoshi in dancing, Sakurai Shou in writing lyrics, Aiba Masaki in sports (and constant mistakes in reading, talking, etc), Ninomiya Kazunari in writing music and Sakurai Jun in his dramas.

Although its mambers have acted in various roles, e.g. the sinister lawyer in Maou, the rich boy Doumeiji in Hanayori Dango and are no longer the youngest group under Johnny's entertainment (there are Hey! Say! Jump! and the Johnny's Juniors), they always give off a whiff of youth that is easy on the eyes and the ears.

Monday, March 2, 2009

One glance into history - Victorian Romance Emma

Awarded by the ministry of culture for its accurate portrayal of Victorian England, this anime/manga features next to no violence. So feel free to watch it with your family and children. And because the era depicted, everything, even scenes of debauchery are only hinted at, so you don't have to worry about covering children's eyes at inappropriate scenes.

It started like a typical Cinderella story, William, the eldest son of a prestigious trading company's owner fell in love with Emma, the maid of his ex-governess's house. As William's visits to the house becomes more frequent, Emma becomes more aware of him, his affections and intentions, which eventually leads to their confession at the Crystal Palace.

However, everything went down hill when the elder governess died. Losing her home and shelter, the gap between the working class and the gentry became deeper than ever to both Emma and William.

While the main branch of the story is about William and Emma's struggles along their relationship, the details and the delicate human relationship between the classes and families make this a wonderfully rich series.

Emma is available in two seasons, the first season is available as a box set, the second a series of six DVDs.

Given title's subject matter, the story won't be as fast paced as a mecha flying across space, therefore some people may be put off by the slow tempo. But it's precisely because of its rhythm, you can enjoy the details more, from the way Emma used tea leaves to clean carpets (as was the way Victorians do it in those days) to the flower girl's empty eyes as they hawk their wares.

Another aspect of the series is its almost complete lack of villains. Even the biggest obstacles in the hero and heroine's relationship has their kind sides. Eleanor, the naive daughter of a nobleman, William's one time fiancee is doubtlessly a sweet girl and his father, one of the greatest forces of opposition has suffered under the weight of the society and his reason for not wanting his son to walk the same path as his is perfectly understandable.

Every character gets their lime light in the last few volumes. From the story about the little boy and his squirrel to the cooks whom Emma worked with. For anyone who wants to take a peek at Victorian England but does not want to open a wordy book, this series is a good start.